The words almost leap off the page: “Ms. Wright stated that, at one point during the argument, she got so mad at Mr. Taylor that she got inside her Hyundai, and struck Mr. Taylor with the vehicle while he was standing in the street.”
That sentence was the deciding factor in holding McKenzie L. Wright without bond on Sept. 30. It was also, her attorneys wrote, a “knowingly false statement” penned by arresting officers, according to a motion for dismissal filed in Harford County District Court.
Originally slated for trial Feb. 18, Wright’s charges were dropped on Feb. 14 after the court was made aware of the misstatement in the charging documents, and her attorneys made a motion to dismiss the case. But an identical set of charges were filed Feb. 11 to replace them, after prosecutors went back to a grand jury and obtained another indictment.
The motion for dismissal was filed in both the old and new cases, but Harford County Circuit Court Judge Yolanda Curtin did not rule on whether the proceedings will continue at a Feb. 19 hearing in Wright’s new case.
According to the motion for dismissal, Aberdeen police and medical personnel responded to Liberty Street in Aberdeen to find a man lying in the road. He had road rash on the front of his body and face and was bleeding from his head, according to the documents.
Police arrested Wright for “interfering in the investigation,” the document states, and read her Miranda rights. They questioned her, and she said that it was “an accident," the motion states.
Wright was taken to the Aberdeen Police Department where the arresting officer wrongly wrote that Wright said she got mad at her boyfriend Donald Taylor and hit him with her car, according to the motion. The defense did not receive a copy of Wright’s statement until 55 days later, the motion states. It did not square with what she told police, according to the motion.
“That statement in no way indicated that the Defendant intentionally struck the victim with her vehicle,” the motion states. “The Officer’s report detailing the Defendant willfully and intentionally striking the victim was a knowingly false statement, and it is that same information that the State relied upon to seek an indictment for the elevated charge of Attempted First Degree Murder.”
The prosecution disavowed the officer’s statement at Wright’s second bail review hearing on Nov. 20, where she was released after being in jail for weeks. A major factor in her bail consideration was the severity and intentional nature of the crime.
“The charging document lacks probable cause, and the State only gained its probable cause by using blatantly false information,” the defense motion concludes. “Thus, the only just and far remedy in this case is dismissal of the indictment.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Cristin Treaster said at the Feb. 20 hearing that she recognized something “wrong” with the first case against Wright and moved to correct it. Harford County State’s Attorney Albert J. Peisinger Jr. clarified that a new grand jury was convened and certified the same charges against Wright, the ones filed Feb. 11, after discovering the errors in the charging documents.
“That second grand jury found probable cause for the same charges,” Peisinger said.
Lt. Will Reiber of the Aberdeen Police Department said that there has been no formal complaint filed about the officer’s misstatement and no investigation has been opened.
“There has been nothing brought to us ... that might lead to disciplinary action at this time,” Reiber said.
Defense attorney Karen Jones also contested the state’s version of events at the hearing. She interpreted that Taylor said he had been “car-surfing” because a doctor enclosed the word in quotation marks on his Taylor’s medical forms. She said that indicates Taylor said them and further stated he had a history of car-surfing.
“When words are in quotations, it tells me that they are attributed to an actual person,” Jones said.
Treaster argued that the quotations were not enough to show Taylor said he had been car-surfing and that the information’s origin was unclear. She also doubted the defendant’s ability to speak while sedated and intubated at the hospital.
“I would be incredibly surprised if [Taylor] has any recollection of that night whatsoever,” she said.